So, one day to go and I’ll have made it through NaPoWriMo 2012. Thirty poems, over 6,000 words of notes and drafts (I’ve just counted ‘em!) and too many new friends and fellow writers to mention, but I hope they all know who they are. It’s been said many times this month, but what’s pulled me through has been that sense of community and common purpose. The collective energy at times has been almost palpable, and the several times when I was close to flagging it was the thought of not wanting to let down my new writerly friends that pulled me round – so thank you all. Plus, we mustn’t forget the debt we owe to the organisers for all the hard work in making sure we always had our daily dose of inspiration.
But this month hasn’t just been about writing – one of the best things has been the amazing work written by others and posted online each day. There’s such talent out there and it’s a rather wonderful thought that so many new poems have been brought into the literary world these past 30 days. Reading them has been such a pleasure – thank you again.
My confidence as a writer has grown – particularly the confidence to experiment, and to share work that would otherwise have mouldered in a notebook or hard-drive having been dismissed by me as not being good enough. I’ve also learned something about my own writing processes and how an obscure idea – perhaps that once would have been dismissed – can end up turning into something reasonable. Ultimately it’s other people’s reactions to our work that counts the most.
Tonight feels a bit like those last nights of memorable holidays when everyone celebrates, exchanges addresses and promises to stay in touch before flying home to the reality of their own lives; some people you never hear from again, but others end up turning into lifelong friends – and you can never always predict who will be which!
Whatever happens, to those I’ve shared this journey with – it’s been amazing, and every single one of you has made a difference to my writing life. I know it’s not fully over yet, and there may well be some celebrations yet to come when some of us can meet face-to-face and give voice to the words we’ve written. I do hope so.
It’s the London Marathon on Sunday. Now, of course there’s no comparison between writing poetry and the courage, determination and sheer physical effort needed to run 26 miles; some similarities have occurred to me, though. Runners talk of ‘hitting the wall’ about two-thirds of the way into the race – a point where the body is hit by sudden fatigue and loss of energy, and an overwhelming feeling of not being able to go on any further.
Coincidentally, we’re two-thirds of the way through NaPoWriMo. How many of us, I wonder, are close to hitting the equivalent of our own ‘wall’ right now? As each day passes I find I’m wondering more and more if I’ll be able to turn out something I’m happy to share, that I’ll run out of inspiration, that the quality of my work is getting worse and worse… is it the same for you?
Runners also talk about the sheer energy imparted by the crowds that helps them through the ‘wall’ – the cheering, the encouragement, people calling out your name. I’ve said several times this month that it’s been the sharing, the sense of purpose and encouragement from fellow writers that has made NaPoWriMo for me, and that I’d have probably bailed out before now had it not been for all you lovely people in our Facebook group. Thank you! It’ll become even more important on this final stretch.
Ten more poems to go!
This thing just seems to get more and more enjoyable. I was worried at one point that I’d struggle to find the time or inspiration, especially on days when I’m working or busy with family commitments, but so far it’s not been too much of a problem. I suppose it comes down to the fact that if we truly want to do something enough, we’ll always find the time.
I admit I was sceptical about the daily prompt – surely as writers we should find our own inspiration, ha! – but now really look forward to it and get a real sense of challenge (which I mostly accept …!) when I find NaPoWriMo.net has been updated.
But above all, it’s the sharing, sense of community and common purpose that’s making all the difference, and – now I know who set up the Facebook group – appreciation goes to Charlotte Henson for doing so. Thank you Charlotte – you’re a star – and thanks to everyone there whose contributions, comments, encouragement and friendship are making this month so special.
A final observation for now: In this online, virtual world one link leads on to another, then another – and it’s easy to forget what the starting point actually was; I certainly can’t remember. Something led me to NaPoWriMo and to the Facebook group and, do you know? I couldn’t tell you exactly what that was now.
Serendipity? Synchronicity? You decide. Here’s to the second half of NaPoWrimo!
Thank you for reading my poetry.
Only a week, is it? Actually, it’s flown by, and I’m lovin’ it (and much respect to those who participate in NaNoWriMo each November). An event like this sharpens the poetic senses, if you know what I mean; someone once wrote that inspiration works about 10% of the time… and that as writers we have to figure out what to do about the other 90%. Inspiration is a strange thing and I’m beginning to understand that, in fact, she’s always there; it’s just that so much of the time we’re not looking hard enough. ‘Having’ to do something and making a commitment brings its own muse.
I enjoy the way writing a poem each day focuses my mind –it seems to have created a kind of heightened awareness where ideas are walking right up to slap me around the face as if to say ‘hey – what about this, then?’
Also – and perhaps most importantly – I don’t feel I’m just sending my poetry into a void. What I love is that there are real people out there, motivated by the same things as me, and who actually read what I write and form opinions – and what an absolute joy it is to read everyone else’s wonderful submissions.
So virtual love and hugs to all the new online friends I’ve met in this first week of NaPoWriMo and may we all travel successfully together to journey’s end!